N o t e s - S e l f - P o r t r a i t A s W i k i p e d i a E n t r y
American Self Portrait I lifts a line from Charles Wright’s “Envoi.” Thanks to Simone Muench for engendering that larceny.
Cartography or American Allegory I talks to Bruce Snider’s excellent ghazal, “Map.”
Frog Considers A Photograph by Andres Serrano Entitled Dissection imagines a fictional photograph by Serrano. No such piece actually exists.
Self-Portrait with Contemplation enters into conversation with Rainer Maria Rilke’s “First Duino Elegy” and appropriates a line from Wallace Stevens’ “The Men That Are Falling.”
Twenty Lines on Paul Klee’s Man in Love is for Jill Ramsey.
Poem In Which Readers Select Their Favorite Title enters into conversation with “High In The Mountains, I Fail To Find The Wise Man” by the great T’ang poet Li Po (701-762). Sesshū Tōyō (1420-1506) is perhaps the most important master of ink and wash painting in Japanese history. He is best known for his Long Landscape Scroll. And now to you, Reader: If you selected title A), the poem is for my father; if you selected title B), the poem is a commentary on America's long history of racial violence; if you selected title C) the poem is for Judy Halebsky; if you selected title D) the poem is for the American electorate; if you selected title F) the poem is for the future. And You.
Self-Portrait Bop stitches lines from Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again" to the form of the bop, invented by Afaa Michael Weaver.
America, I Do Not Call Your Name Without Hope talks to Pablo Neruda's "América, no invoco tu nombre en vano," commonly known as "America, I Do Not Call Your Name Without Hope," (trans. Robert Bly). Originally written in response to the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, the poem was published by The San Francisco Chronicle three days after the November 8, 2016 presidential election.
How We Survive: A Triptych talks to Matthew Zapruder’s “Pocket.”
American Self Portrait III or What the Poet Thinks of Instead of War thanks Simone Muench for many things, including “Our lives are language, our desires apophatic,” which is a slight modification of a line from Charles Wright’s “Absence Inside an Absence.”
Not Long After Rich: A Study takes its form and title from Adrienne Rich’s “Long After Stevens.”
Becoming Klee, Becoming Color is a response to the Paul Klee at SFMoMA exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2011. Klee (1879-1940) was one of the great artists of the twentieth century and a fine poet. Much of his writing on art theory focuses on “line,” “form,” “figure,” and “syntax” making it sound very much like poetic theory.
Unable to Look Away from the Portrait of the My Grandfather atop His Casket, I Write a Poem about My Newborn Son on the Back of the Funeral Program honors my grandfather, Ferman Henry Goodrich, who died not long after my son, Henry Rader, was born.
Self-Portrait in Charleston, Orlando is in response to the shootings at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in which, combined, 58 people were killed. The poem also references the so-called silent years of Jesus Christ and the middle passage. The poem is dedicated to the memory of those murdered in these two horrific hate crimes and is a plea for sensible gun laws. This poem arose out of what feels like non-stop thinking about race, terrorism, the history (and routes) of slavery, gun violence, geography, Christianity, the oppression of marginalized groups, and their many metaphorical—as well as literal—confluences. An audio recording of the poem can be heard here.
Still Life with Gratitude is for Jill Ramsey, Gavin Rader, and Henry Rader.
Forecast enters into conversation with Klee’s Angelus Novus (1920) and Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940).
American Allegory IV or Still Life with Peter Norman reflects on Peter Norman, the Australian silver medalist who shared the award pedestal with John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Norman stood in silent solidarity as Carlos and Smith raised their fists in support of Black Power during the playing of the National Anthem. All three athletes wore human rights badges on their chests. Norman was shunned for pretty much his entire life after this event. Carlos and Smith helped carry Norman’s coffin at his funeral.
American Self-Portrait V is an epistolary poem written to the Choctaw writer LeAnne Howe and is loaded with references to places, people, animals, plants, food, planes, stores, organizations, and laws from Oklahoma where Howe and I grew up.